Memba Rally and BMF Show - May 1998
After the crush on the bike last year, (after all, neither of us are small and the tent & sleeping bag do take up a lot of room), Gissele and myself decided to use the car this year. This means, of course, that we could bring even more luxuries with us than previously, (extra bedding, as it happens) and we would be protected from the elements should it decide to rain on us a touch too heavily. Well, as you may have noticed, that was never going to happen that weekend, was it? (Mind you, it did get quite cold at night.) I even took my waterproof jacket with us, but that stayed in the boot all weekend.
This year we managed to set off well on time and got to the site in hardly any time at all, (after the expected crush-hour on the M25). I thought that I had missed the proper turn off from the A1, but this route seemed to be shorter than the route I usually take.
Naturally we had to park in a separate field to the bikes, but there were quite a few bikes there anyway. We decided to carry our gear through to the main camping field, rather than camp with the car, because MAC & Sue were expecting us and had reserved an area for my tent by using some of their luggage. MAC said he would display a T-shirt facing towards the gate for us to find, in fact he was wearing it, but at least he was fairly near the location he told us to find - just behind the shower block. With both of them helping us it took hardly any time to transfer the luggage to the right spot, the tent was up by the time it started getting dark. It just fitted in the space they had reserved and the kettle was soon on for the first brew of the weekend.
Having sorted that out, we decided to book in, then investigate the food sources. When we saw the queue for the former, we elected to get some food first. While waiting for my favourite, (garlic mushroom & cheese toasties), we met a girl I knew to be from the Free Spirit Riders MCC, who usually do some work in the booking-in office. I just happened to mention the long queue, whereupon she whipped away with our tickets and came back in a flash with our badges, wristbands and other bits & pieces - very handy. On the food front, though, the Hog Roast caravans were very disappointing this year - quite apart from putting far too much soggy stuffing in the roll and too little pork - they insisted on displaying a whole dead pig right in front of the customers. They were allegedly roasted, but didn't look too well done to us and were quite off-putting for many people. Having fed our faces, we went back to the tent for another coffee and to arrange things for the evening.
Gissele had been working that day, so she went to bed early, while I joined MAC in the marquee, listening to a very good 'seventies tribute' band. The members of this band each wore combinations of the fashion highlights that the seventies are famous for - in no particular order; flared lurex trousers, sequinned jacket, top hat with mirrors on, long straggly moustaches, big hair, over-the-top glittery make-up and platform shoes. All the songs they played were well known and popular. There was also a three-piece female saxophone section, probably consisting of the wives/daughters of the band members.
When I went back to the tent, I found Gissele reading in bed. Apparently the gas can that I had connected to the lamp had run out while I was away, but I had anticipated this and had a spare which she had connected. This was a bit low too, but would be enough for the rest of the weekend.
On Saturday we got up in time for some brekky, (some of the additional luggage), with more coffee, before the gates opened for us to shop around the show area without the general public getting in our way, but not in time to catch the heats for the silly games. Nothing much caught our eye, but we hadn't gone there to buy anything, just for the fun of the event. About lunchtime we sat down in the grandstand and watched the heats for the rallyists' bike jumping - luckily the White Helmets display team provided the machinery, so all the contestants were risking was their pride, (and limbs, of course.).
We sampled some food from the nearby vendors, which was still at a reasonable price - I remember last year the difference in food prices between the rally and the show was quite marked, even on the Saturday. After a while we went for another wander round the stalls, where Gissele found some sunglasses, which she had been looking for, (not bad - £2.99), then went back to the tent for a lie down in the sun before the finals of the silly games. The games started quite a bit earlier than the programme stated, so we missed a couple of them, but the ones we caught were enjoyable. Gissele especially enjoyed the musical bikes, (several bikes with pillion passengers circle round a heap of bollards, when the music stops, each pillion rider leaps from the back of the bike into the centre and tries to grab a bollard - naturally one less bollard than people), which she had not seen before.
After the games and another toastie, this time with a baked spud, we went back for yet another coffee and put our thicker shirts on for the night. Saturday's band was extremely well known - The Hamsters - and the whole marquee was boogying for hours. An ever-increasing number of people climbed the poles, this time more than ever were stripping naked and waving their private parts at the assembled audience that included quite a few children. Some saved themselves the trouble of stripping while hanging by one hand at the top of the pole, by stripping before they climbed. One day it would be interesting to see somebody climb up the pole naked, then put their clothes on at the top. One enterprising club sent two members up adjacent poles and they tied their club flag between the two.
The bonfire was lit and quite a few people went out to stand around it - the music was quite audible out there. Unfortunately it was quite cold by now and only one side of the fire was doing at all well, the other side being unlit and shrouded with smoke. We eventually found a gap at the surrounding safety fence and stood there for a while, before giving up and retiring around midnight.
The bike jumping was hotly contested, with the winner achieving quite an astounding distance - and he didn't fall off! The food prices, as expected, were a fair bit higher than Saturday, but we had finished off our cornflakes before coming over, so we weren't too bothered, although we did pay for an overpriced ice cream. Ian told me where I could find a cheap helmet (£25), but when I got there they were up to £40. Obviously I should have got it on Saturday while the BMF 'discount' was in operation. We passed by the stall where Gissele got her sunglasses - they were now selling for £9.99!
We weren't too interested in staying all day - we remembered the traffic trying to get out last year - so we had packed everything up and were ready to go at about 2pm. We could not believe how clear the roads were, even though most of the way back to the A1 was down to one carriageway and we were back home in no time.
All in all a most enjoyable weekend, with absolutely incredible weather. Roll on next year.
- Phil (the Spill) Drackley